After the debacle that was the high-profile Oprah-and-Michelle-Obama politicking in Copenhagen to get the Summer Olympics in Chicago in 2016, it might not be surprising that the networks weren't heavily tracking the U.S. bid to attract the World Cup soccer tournament for 2022. (You could argue that U.S. sports fans are much more indifferent to the World Cup than to the Olympics.) The American delegation that traveled to Switzerland included soccer stars, and former president Bill Clinton, and an Obama cabinet member. The Secretary of Commerce, perhaps? No, Attorney General Eric Holder.
When the tournament was awarded oddly to Qatar on December 2 (promising air-conditioned stadiums since summer temps are in the 120s, not to mention how global warming might ruin the planet by 2022), there was no mention on ABC,CBS, or NBC -- or The Washington Post, or the Los Angeles Times, or USA Today, for that matter. But that night, Monica Crowley and Sean Hannity did take it apart on Fox News:
CROWLEY: I want to focus on the United States attorney general, Sean, because you would think that Eric Holder would be at his desk, buried deep in all of the immediate and thorny legal challenges facing the United States.
HANNITY: Good point.
CROWLEY: Say how to prosecute the anti-American anarchist Julian Assange, how to manage the fallout of the disastrous Ghalaini verdict last week, one conviction this terrorist would have walked scot-free. How to manage Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, how to prosecute him, how to deal with the new suspected terrorist, the guy who tried to blow up, the Portland tree bomber. Instead what we have is an attorney general who just been on a very expensive huge carbon footprint joyride to Europe to try to get a soccer match in the United States, that's not going to happen for another 12 years.
HANNITY: At some point, when the president, you know, claims that he's going to bring the world over to the U.S. side and the world perception of the United States is going to change, he goes to Copenhagen, he failed. He sends Eric Holder and President Clinton out, they failed.
On NPR's All Things Considered, by contrast, there were no negative words for Holder or Obama:
DAVID GREENE, NPR: The head of Qatar's delegation, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Hamad Al-Thani, went up on stage at the ceremony in Zurich.
Sheikh MOHAMMED BIN HAMAD AL-THANI (Qatar): Thank you for believing in expanding the game. Thank you for giving Qatar a chance. And we will not let you down. You will be proud of us. You will be proud of the Middle East, and I promise you this. (Applause)
GREENE: The Middle East is getting its first World Cup, following Africa, which had its first shot this year. As FIFA's president put it...
SEPP BLATTER, FIFA (World Cup organizers): We go to new lands.
GREENE: Which is little consolation to England, a country that lost out to Russia, or the U.S., which lost the 2022 bid to Qatar. President Obama called the decision wrong and former U.S. national soccer star Eric Wynalda said Qatar, a desert country with 1.7 million people, will struggle to host the tournament. Oil and natural gas won today, Wynalda told the Associated Press. This was not about merit. This was about money.
Qatar does have gas and money, and it's vowing to spend billions of dollars to build stadiums and anything else that's needed. The streets of Doha were alive tonight with celebrations that drowned out Al-Jazeera sports correspondent Joanna Gasiorowska.
JOANNA GASIOROWSKA (over cheers): (unintelligible) around here. Some of the people - this place is sold out.
GREENE: Those streets can get up to 130 degrees Fahrenheit in June, which could be Qatar's biggest challenge come 2022. The bidding committee has promised air conditioned stadiums.